New Bayliner 285 // 10 New Reviews // Inside Evinrude 250 - 08/18/2010
BoatTEST Newsletter August 18, 2010 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust
10th year anniversary
- Bayliner 285 Sunbridge
- Mako 284 CC
- Doral 275 Venezia
- Glastron GT 180
- Volvo Penta OceanX Drive
- Yamaha VX Cruiser
- FinCraft VEC Technology
- Larson LXi 238
- Sun Tracker Party Barge 25
- Formula 260 Bowrider
- Cobia 296 CC
- Evinrude E-TEC 250 H.O.
- Regal 2750 Cuddy
- What Makes a Sea Tow Captain?
- Yamaha 242
- Boating Course Now on DVD
- Shurhold Buff Magic
- Picture of the Week
- First Time Buying Advice
- USCG Safety Check List
- Battery Charger Smart Enough?
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

Bayliner 285 Sunbridge:
28’ with a Single Engine?

Bayliner 285 Sunbridge
Bayliner decided to make a single engine cruiser that targeted the customer who didn’t want the expense or complication of twins, but does performance suffer?

Times are tough and we all want to save a buck where we can. So at times like this, the idea of a single engine cruiser is a very attractive one. But there’s a limit to what size constitutes that fine line where you really should be using twins instead of a single. So when we saw the Bayliner 285 Sunbridge being billed as a single engine, we thought 28’? That may be stretching the line a little thin. But it’s been done before, perhaps it may work again... perhaps not. We needed to find out for ourselves so we sent Capt. Steve to give it a full test with an eye specifically focused on close-quarters handling. Surely even he would have to agree that single engine docking on a 28’ cruiser is not for the faint of heart! See the video for yourself and read his full report.

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Center Consoles

Mako 284 Center Console:
The Largest in the Mako Fleet

Mako 284 Center Console
The Mako 284 measures 28’4” (8.63 m) by 9’10” (25.4 cm). She has a 21-degree deadrise and an empty weight of 6,000 lbs. (2721 kg).

It’s hard to think of the name Mako without picturing a center console. For years, the two were synonymous. Today, the flagship of the Mako lineup is the 284 CC. We found her to be feature packed with everything an open-water center console needs for filling the fishboxes, but she comes rigged only with a pair of 200 XL Optimax outboards and offers no options for equipment or engines. The upshot is that Mako can keep the price very reasonable at $79,995. So the question is, does Mako’s idea of how a CC should be set up match yours? Today, we take a video tour of the 284 CC to see if she meets your needs, rigged as is. More...

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New Test

Doral 275 Venezia:
A Top Tier Pocket Cruiser

Doral 275 Venezia
The Doral 275 Venezia has a swim platform that extends way out past her outdrive giving her a LOA of 29' (8.84 m), and her beam of 9’4” (2.84 m) is 10” (25.4 cm) more than most boats in her class.

Doral has a reputation for building boats that have good handling characteristics, and we set out to test that in the 275 Venezia. Not only that, but she is one of the most artfully designed and finished models in her size class.  She’s designed to accommodate a single or twin engine application, and of course the best way to discover the worst performance a boat can offer is to go with the single. Our test boat was powered with a 375-hp 496 MAG MerCruiser swinging a Bravo III outdrive. While not the smallest choice, it served well to see how she performed. For the full story, our test video is ready for viewing.

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New Test

Glastron GT 180:
An Easy Handling Bowrider

Glastron GT 180
We recently tested the Glastron GT 180 and found her to have a top end speed of 42.2 MPH while burning 11.7 GPH with an Evinrude 115-HP outboard. For best cruise figures, read on...

Whenever we take a look at a small bowrider, we consider that not only will this be a good boat for just about anyone, but more than likely, an adult owner will be handing the keys to a first timer, probably a kid. Thus, the question then becomes, “can a kid handle this boat and do so safely?” If the answer is yes, then it’s a good boat for everybody. So to explore the capabilities of this 17’1” (5.2 m) bowrider, we decided to explore it from a parental point of view. If it passes that test, it’s anybody’s boat. More...

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Volvo Penta OceanX Outdrive:
What Separates it From the Rest?

Volvo Penta OceanX
The OceanX has some unique features that make it different from the average outdrive.

Volvo Penta’s OceanX outdrive may be a little higher priced than the competition, but it’s a case of "pay a little more now to save a lot down the road." Walk over to your marina’s repair shop and look at the outdrives the mechanics are working on. The problems are usually corrosion, water in the bellows, or water in the drive oil.  The design team at Volvo Penta has come up with a solution to solve all three, or at least slow them down to a crawl.  Today, we take a look at those features that make the OceanX a bit different, and see if the added cost is justified. More...

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PWC News

Yamaha VX Cruiser: Does Stripped Down Price Mean Stripped Down Features?

Yamaha VX Cruiser
Yamaha’s entire VX line is intended to get more people on the water for less money.

Yamaha created their VX line as a way to keep the price of boating affordable. That’s never a bad thing, especially when the boat still keeps some improvements that separate it from the competition. Mirrors raised above the “strike zone,” larger swim platform, expanded seating, more storage... these things all make a difference. The good news is that Yamaha managed to keep the VX Cruiser at an affordable $8,999, and that’s short money for a boatload of fun. Today we check out the features of the Yamaha VX Cruiser and see exactly what we get for our money while not breaking the bank. More...

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Larson LXi 238:
Steppin' Out in Style

Larson LXi 238:
Creative styling touches and a racy wakeboard tower turn the Larson LXi 238 into a boat that’ll turn heads. We like the triple air intakes, too.

Too many bowriders suffer from ho-hum styling, so it’s nice to see Larson making an effort to lift their LXi 238 above the fleet. By incorporating accent stripes to highlight the sinuous deck line, plush upholstery on virtually every horizontal surface, a cool optional arch that seems to defy gravity and lots of innovative detailing, the company has created a boat that should appeal to folks who think out of the box – but not too far out: Basically, the LXi 238 is a conventional bowrider built to Larson’s usual standards. And that’s good. For more about the boat, hit the jump.

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New Boat

Sun Tracker Party Barge 25 XP3:
Huge Accommodations, Sportboat Handling

Sun Tracker Party Barge 25 XPT
It’s hard to see in this photo, but the addition of a third pontoon adds considerably to the 25 XP3 handling. All the tubes are equipped with lifting strakes.

Nothing brings friends out of the woodwork like a boat on a clear sunny day. The problem is you may find yourself with more friends than your boat can handle. Problem solved with the Sun Tracker Party Barge 25 XP3. This baby can handle up to fifteen people and do so in style. Not only does the addition of a third tube increase its buoyancy, but the lifting strakes on all three add to her performance and handling so that even skiing is a breeze on this 25 footer. But it takes more than adding a tube and extra seats to make a “Party Barge,” so we did a full review to see what else this party animal brings to the show. More...

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New Report

Formula 260 Bowrider:
Is it the Solution for You?

Formula 260 BR
Formula’s classy 260 Bowrider could be the solution to your boating problems, whether you travel with a posse or just the two of you. It’s available with a wide selection of MerCruiser or Volvo Penta sterndrives.

Maybe a bowrider, a big one like the Formula 260, is just the boat for you. Why? Unless you live to fish, or have endless free time for cruising, your boating probably takes place mostly within daylight hours, and not too far from home. You need a boat that will carry you, your family and friends around in comfort and safety; that will let you pursue waterborne activities like skiing, wakeboarding and swimming; and that will provide enough performance to remind you you’re not old yet. The Formula 260 Bowrider should do all these things, and maybe more. And it’s from a highly regarded, family-owned company with a reputation for building boats of excellent quality. If you’re ready to take the bowrider plunge, step across...

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Cobia 296 CC

Cobia 296 CC:
Is This Your New Fishboat?

Cobia 296 CC
Deep-V hull, twin four-stroke outboards, sleek profile, hardtop festooned with rods – can the Cobia 296 CC be anything but a no-nonsense fishboat?

There are a lot of high-quality center-console fishboats on the market, especially in the 28-to-32-foot size range. Most are very similar to one another – choosing one over the others can be difficult. (The good news? Stick with a well-respected builder and you won’t go far wrong.) But don’t overlook the Cobia 296 CC, a serious center console from one of the longest-lived companies around. Now owned by Maverick, Cobia builds a tough, well-engineered boat with all the bells and whistles fisherfolk demand. If you don’t fish, shop elsewhere – this boat is all about dragging lures. Otherwise, cast your line here for more about this top-of-the-line Cobia.

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New Video

Evinrude E-TEC 250 H.O.
6 Cylinders, 2-Stroke, 1 Powerful Engine

Evinrude E-TEC 250 H.O.
Today we break down the E-TEC 250 H.O. and look at each of the components that make up this engine.

When we first tested the Evinrude E-TEC 250 H.O., we were impressed, as we noted a few weeks ago.  Now when you couple that kind of performance with a 3-year/300 hour no-maintenance schedule, self fogging, and 195 fewer parts than a comparable four-stroke, then you have a serious package. Today, we take a look at the features of the E-TEC 250 H.O. and see not only what each component does, but what makes an engine “high output” anyway. It’s all in our 250 H.O. features video. More...

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Captain’s Report

Regal 2750 Cuddy:
Does a Cuddy Beat a Bowrider?

Regal 2750 Cuddy:
The Regal 2750 is 28’6” with the platform, big for a cuddy-cabin boat. But there are many advantages to this design, not least of which is shelter if the weather turns bad, or you just need a nap.

When buying their first “big” boat, most folks look for something with a bona fide cabin, an express cruiser type with berths, a galley and so forth. But is that smart? Most people spend very little of their on-the-water time cruising – they make day-trips to a nearby beach, or water ski, or just hang out with friends on the boat. They don’t need a full cabin – but it’s nice to have a place to get out of the sun now and then, have lunch or take a nap. For that, a cuddy cabin is ideal, and when the boat’s as large as the Regal 2750, it’s even better. Maybe your next boat should be a cuddy; if you think so, click here and learn more.

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What Makes A Sea Tow Captain?

Sea Tow Captain
So you think you’ve got what it takes to tow boats for a living? Don’t be so sure.

Ever wonder if you’ve got the “right stuff” to make it as a tow boat captain? We’ve got captains on our staff that have wide ranging and diverse backgrounds, and they all agreed -- this takes a special sort of a captain, not only for the skill set, but for the pronounced lack of freedom such a job entails. Heck, these guys get calls 24/7. Is it any wonder most aren’t married? Today, we look at what sort of person becomes a Sea Tow captain, and what his/her life is really like. More...

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Test Day

Yamaha Test Family:
Endurance Testing

Yamaha 242
The 242 Limited S stands ready the day before the big race.

Our report from Dad this week is about his support of the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation’s Swim Across The Sound and how the Yamaha 242 Limited S held up to over eleven hours of continuous use. The Swim Across The Sound is an annual fundraiser that hosts professional as well as amateur swimmers making the trek from Port Jefferson on Long Island, NY to Black Rock Harbor in Bridgeport, CT. As a solo swimmer support boat, Dad set out at 0500 that Saturday morning, headed to the launch ramp and to begin, his trip over to Port Jefferson, approximately 27 miles away. So how was his journey, how did the 242 hold up, and will he ever do it again in the 242?

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Imagine How Things Would Have Turned Out If They Had Watched Smart Boating!
Now Available on 4 DVDs

Smart Boating on DVD
In response to customer feedback, our popular video boating course is now available in a 4-disc DVD box set. Great for learning at home, and takes you to the professional level of boating knowledge.

Picture yourself taking your friends or family on a three-hour tour (a three-hour tour), and suddenly, the weather started getting rough! Would you know what to do?’s Smart Boating course gives you the answer and lets you discover a whole new world of boating right from the comfort of your living room. It's great to watch with the whole family, and teaches you on your terms and your schedule. Now there’s finally an easy way to go up to the professional level of boating education. Smart Boating... because safe boating just isn’t enough, little buddy. Order your copy here...


Shurhold Video Test:
Buff Magic Taken to Task!

We put Capt. Steve to work while our cameras were rolling.

Owning a fiberglass yacht with a shiny, gleaming surface is one of the joys of boat ownership. But the hard work that goes into creating that look isn't so much fun. In order to find out how well Yacht Brite Buff Magic and Pro Polish work, we recently tested on a severely neglected hull. Capt. Steve followed the standard procedures, applied the products, and all the while our camera crew was shooting video tape.  See for yourself what our tests turned up...

 Only In Dreams

Picture of the Week

Picture of the Week
Find out where this picture was taken and when...

See a larger picture, when and who took the picture -- and where!

Send us your favorite boating images.

When sending a photo, let us know what boat you were on, where and when the photo was taken.

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Boat Buying Tips

Advice for First-Time Boat Buyers

First-Time Buyers
When you are ready to move up to the real thing, following a few simple rules can make buying your first boat a pleasing success.

There comes a time in many people’s lives when they decide that it is “now or never.” That moment may come because of one’s age, their children’s ages, economic circumstances, health issues, or any number of other reasons. It makes no difference when that day comes, but when it does, our advice is to act on it, because chances are that your subconscious has been rolling the idea around for a long time, and it is now speaking to you directly. The biggest reason that many people never become boat owners is not because of the cost involved but, rather, because of fear of the unknown. These people fear that they will make a mistake, buy the wrong boat, pay too much, end up having an accident, or will simply be overwhelmed with boat maintenance or some other imagined problem. We all remember what FDR said about fear, and his sage words apply to this subject as well. Here’s our advice for the beginner on which boat to select...

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Safety Aboard

Safety Check List

Battery Chargers
Every boat should have a carbon monoxide detector in every cabin. They are low cost and high value. You can mount them most anywhere.

One of our video camera operators called in last week to get a new assignment and in the course of the conversation he mentioned that he and his assistant were having headaches and they smelled something funny at night. What are the chances of two people getting a headache at the same time? They weren’t in a boat, they were in an apartment. What they needed was a CO detector, and we told them to leave immediately and go get one. CO is odorless, but a prime symptom is a headache or nausea, followed by drowsiness and death. Make sure your boat is well equipped with CO detectors with new batteries. Also, it is time to check your US Coast Guard required safety items and required equipment. If you want to refresh your memory on what federal regulations say you must have aboard, consult here...

Safety Tip

Equipment Upgrade: Is Your Battery Charger Smart Enough?

Battery Chargers
A smart charger will treat your batteries with TLC, thanks to sophisticated circuitry that compensates for a slew of variables. But choosing a smart charger takes know-how. (Photo courtesy of Guest.)

When you look at your battery charger, do you think of Thomas Edison? If your boat’s more than a few years old, you might have a charger that’s not a lot better than one he would have used, and you can bet it’s hard on your batteries. Maybe it’s time for a new, “smart” charger that will not only keep your batteries fully charged, but extend their lifespan, too. And do it all with a gentle touch.  For more information on how to upgrade your charging system, click here.

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Lesson of the Week

Fueling Procedures for Safe Boating

Lesson of the Week Smart Boating Cover
Don't be fuel-ish when refilling your boat's tanks.  Following a few simple rules will keep you safe.

This week Capt. Steve goes over thirteen new lessons and guidelines on how to safely refuel your boat. You’ll learn why it’s important to take your time when refueling, reasons for shutting off all electric equipment, how to avoid a static spark, and why you should avoid overfilling your boat. Captain Steve will go over why it’s a good idea to log your fuel consumption, and why it’s important to do a sniff test in the engine compartment. These are basic procedures which all recreational boaters should be aware of. The videos presented this week are part of’s Smart Boating course which is USCG-approved.

To view this week’s lessons --

To view all lessons --

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"Not much of a wake, and the hole shot is unbelieveable!" - N. Young

Second Place

"In order help boost slumping sales, John Deere introduced a new tractor-boat. The mulch it lays down is the perfect surface for scurfing..." - J. Miko

Honorable (almost) Mentions

"Keep your knees bent, your arms straight and let the boat pull you up.  It's easy!"
- W. Carlson

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 8/18/10

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